HomeLatest NewsPhotojournalist Arrested at University of Texas Protest Now Accused of Assault

Photojournalist Arrested at University of Texas Protest Now Accused of Assault

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There have been new developments in the case involving a photojournalist who was arrested during one of many college protests currently taking place. A week ago, I reported on the arrest of a cameraman from a local Austin news outlet during a pro-Palestine protest at the University of Texas. The journalism community was outraged by this incident, but I also noted that there were some reasons to pause.

As expected, journalists were outraged when Carlos Sanchez was detained and taken down by riot police. But few asked questions. Why would the police arrest him if he was with the media? Why was he detained when there were so many journalists present? Why was he singled out and not mistakenly detained in a large group? Why did the police arrest him and book him if they were in error?

A second video was released. Sanchez, according to the claims, was pushed by a mob into an officer. From one angle we can’t see anyone engaging with the cameraman. He appears to be pushing his shoulder-mounted video camera into the back of one of the officers.

The authorities stated that the case would be investigated even though the initial charges were dropped and Sanchez had been released the same day. On Wednesday, May 1st, Carlos Sanchez surrendered himself to the authorities after being charged with misdemeanor abuse and interference with public duty. Sanchez was arrested and released on Wednesday.

The Society of Professional Journalists, along with dozens of other groups, has sent a letter demanding that these charges be dropped immediately. The letter mentions the “chilling effects” that this will have on news gathering and the ability of journalists to do their jobs. The journalists are not willing to do their job by doing an investigation.

The group immediately stated the arrest of Sanchez:

Ashanti Blaize Hopkins, SPJ National President, said: “It is crystal clear that Sanchez didn’t hit anyone intentionally while covering protests last week at the University of Texas in Austin.”

It isn’t “clear” that Sanchez ever made contact with the police officer. It is impossible to say that Sanchez ever pushed or drove into the officer. We can see from another angle the cameraman’s approach. There are no people in the background as he makes the contact.

You can tell a lot about this by slowing down. Sanchez deliberately strides up. While the camera runs, Sanchez is not actively recording, since he’s not using the viewfinder and the camera has been tilted downward. He was able to reach the desired position without any interference.

All of this is open to interpretation and there will be defensive speculation. At the very least, the evidence suggests that the police did not act in a vindictive or out-of-control manner. It is unclear how this case will unfold, and it’s also not clear if Sanchez was completely innocent or if there was any visual proof of his lack of aggression.

There are many questions, but the journalism group SPJ is not interested in answering them.

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